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Who is Regis Philbin? A brief biography about the talk show host


Regis was Born ...:

... on August 25, 1931, as Regis Francis Xavier Philbin. His father named him after his high school (Regis High School) and St. Francis Xavier. Long believed to be an only child, Regis announced on his Feb. 1, 2007, program that he has a brother, Frank.

Growing up with Regis:

New York born and bred, Regis grew up in the Bronx. He graduated in 1953 from the University of Notre Dame (he's famous for spotlighting his alma mater) with a degree in sociology. After college, he joined the United States Navy, launching his television career after leaving the service.

Regis's First Job:

p]Behind-the-scenes jobs in radio and television led Regis to his first stint as a talk show host, on the local San Diego, Calif., program The Regis Philbin Show. His lack of a writing staff turned into his signature style; chatting to the audience about the goings on in his daily life and theirs.

His success in San Diego placed him on the national stage in 1967, when he joined The Joey Bishop Show as Joey's sidekick.

The Early Years:

After Joey Bishop, Regis went on to a number of talk show gigs, including A.M. Los Angeles, which he co-hosted first with Sarah Purcell and then with Cyndy Garvey. His aplomb and easy going style quickly raised the show from the ratings basement to number one.

He eventually moved to New York and was re-teamed with Garvey (who had left previously) on WABC's The Morning Show. It wasn't until Regis was joined by Kathie Lee (Johnson) Gifford that the show, once more, zipped up the charts.

Becoming a Talk Show Host:

To be honest, when has Regis not been a talk show host? Unlike his contemporaries – David Letterman, Jay Leno, who started in comedy and landed in the talk show world, or his co-host, Kelly Ripa, who started as an actress – Regis has always occupied the host’s chair.

In fact, Regis entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2004 when he appeared on television for the 15,188th hour, making him the record holder for “Most Hours on Camera.”

Key Moment in His Career:

Arguably his move from behind the camera to in front of the camera in the 1960s. Add to that his ability to create a signature style, and Regis is the definition of today's talk show host.

What Does the Future Hold?:

Beyond his contract with Live, the broadcast world is decidedly Regis' oyster. He's been a successful game show host (he was the original host of the American version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) and a stellar emcee.

He's also a writer, having penned two autobiographies -- or snapshots of time, really -- and a musician and singer, taking on the crooning style of Sinatra and Martin. He's recorded a few albums, singing pop standards, that have enjoyed moderate success.

But health and time away from family saw Regis leave Live on Nov. 18, 2011. Regis says the move isn't retirement, but merely "moving on."

And Just for Fun:

  • His father was Irish and his mother Italian-American.

  • Joey Bishop relentlessly teased Regis while he acted as sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show. On one occasion, Regis grew so upset that he stormed off the live set and did not return for several days.

  • On New Year's 2004, Regis filled in for Dick Clark, who was recovering from a minor stroke, on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin' Eve. Regis cut short his vacation to take on the duty.

  • On his Christmas album, Regis sings a duet ("Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer") with Donald Trump.
  • Regis underwent triple bypass surgery in March 2007.

  • Surprises the Live audience by announcing his retirement on air Jan. 18, 2010.

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